Retailers are working hard to blend the advanced logistics systems they have developed to compete with Amazon with their brick and mortar locations. One area of opportunity is better management of what’s in stock on the shelves at each store. Now companies are deploying robots to take stock of inventory on store shelves and send that data back to warehouses in real time to make restocking more efficient. Jennifer Smith reports in The Wall Street Journal:
The complicated blending of inventories in stores and warehouses has some retailers testing the use of shelf-scanning robots that roam store aisles and send restocking data back through their networks.
“We’re giving them a real time, actual image of their product layout across the whole store, up to twice or three times a day,” said Red McKay, managing director for Europe at Bossa Nova Robotics Inc. The company’s autonomous robots are being deployed in a pilot at 50Walmart Inc. stores.
More than three-quarters of respondents to a survey released this month by supply-chain software maker JDA Software Group Inc. said they aren’t able to track inventory in real time, and 55% don’t have a single view of product levels across distribution channels.
“We’ve been talking for years and years about e-commerce, and how we need to merge e-commerce with your in-store commerce,” Lori Mitchell-Keller, co-president of SAP Industries, a division of German business software makerSAP SE , said in an interview at the National Retail Federation trade show in New York earlier this month. “And yet at the show, I’ve talked to at least five retailers in just one day who are so excited that they’re finally getting rid of their e-commerce distribution center and combining with other distribution centers.”
Handling both consumer online orders and store replenishment under a single umbrella can help retailers reduce the costs of carrying inventory by putting more stock in one place, Ms. Mitchell-Keller said.
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